The holiday season is a great time to count your blessings. But don’t just be thankful for the “standard” blessings you may have. Why not take a moment and be thankful for a few things you might not consider blessings — even though they truly can be:

1. Criticism.

When people care about you there are a few options you have.  You have the opportunity to do something better, to do something differently, to change their minds… or to just meet in the middle.

People criticize only when they care. (Apathy is much, much worse.)

Be thankful people care enough about you, to criticize, and use that feedback to help you become even better.

2. Failure.

For most of us failure isn’t the end of the world. Failure is just the end of one idea or one possibility or one dream. When we fail we can move on to something else, hopefully a little wiser and more likely to succeed the next time.

For some, though, failure means going without — or worse forcing their children to go without and it can be bad at first but never being able to take a chance on your skills, your experience, and your vision is much, much worse.

Be thankful you have the opportunity to fail on terms you at least partly set.

3. Sadness.

When you’re sad that means something you care about didn’t work out. So use those feelings to inspire you to buckle down and make the necessary changes.

Use those feelings of sadness as the motivation to improve your business, your career… or your life.

Be thankful you’re sad — because that means you still care.

4. Envy.

Envy isn’t always a bad thing. In some ways envy is the cousin of admiration; when we admire and respect people, we also want to be a little more like them. Think of people who have earned your esteem.

Be thankful those people are a part of your life. In fact, don’t just be privately thankful. Tell them how you feel.

That will make them grateful that people like you are in their lives. (And you can envy each other, but in a really good way.)

5. Decisions.

You might have so many options and potential choices, both business and personal, that you feel stressed and even overwhelmed.

Flip it around. Imagine how it would feel to have few, if any, options. Imagine how it would feel to have few, if any, viable choices.

Be thankful you have options… the more, the better.

6. Struggle.

Not unintentional struggle, intentional struggle: like choosing to work incredibly hard, or to push through a mental or physical barrier, or to make sacrifices for the good of the people who rely on you.

When you struggle and fight and endure you not only stretch the limits of what you believe you are capable of, but you also sometimes enter a state of grace you only find when you strip away what is truly nonessential. (Which, in fact, turns out to be most of what you worry about).

Be glad for the struggle: it helps you learn who you really are… and who you really want to be.

7. Delay.

Remaining patient is rarely fun, but having to wait can be a good thing.

For example, research shows that where vacations are concerned the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning to get away. And this vacation anticipation boosts happiness for an average of eight weeks.

After the vacation, though, happiness levels quickly drop to baseline levels — usually within days. Soon the people who went on a vacation were no happier than the people who had not.

Be thankful you need to wait, especially when it is for something you really want. The anticipation alone is worth it. Besides, waiting for what you want — not what youneed, but what you want – is a luxury only those who are already blessed can afford.

Be thankful you have to wait… because that means good things are coming.

8. Regret.

Think about something you wish you had done better, or handled differently, or you wish you had done but for whatever reason did not.

Painful? Sure. And motivating.

Use that motivation today. Call a friend you’ve lost touch with. Mend fences with a family member. Be the bigger person and say you’re sorry. Do something you wish you had done.

You will be thankful you did.

9. Family.

Take a look around the table. I know: Uncle Jimmy is overbearing. Aunt Shirley can’t stay out of anyone’s business. Your brother resents you and your mom can’t stop babying you. They can be terrible — and you’ll miss them terribly when they’re gone.

Smile, see the good in each of them, and be thankful you have a family; many people would love to have a “terrible” family like yours.

10. This moment.

Because you have the time and resources to do something like reading this post, that means you have time: to improve yourself, to consider new ideas, to try to be a better person, to build better relationships with family and friends.

Time is our most important asset and is the one thing we should be most thankful for, because time makes everything else possible.

Be thankful for the time you have… and then don’t waste it.

Now it’s your turn: What would you add to the list?

Let us know what you think!